Natural capital and ecosystem services
Around 60 per cent of the world’s ecosystem services are being degraded or used unsustainably, which has a huge environmental and financial impact. The collective cost to the global economy of mismanaging our natural environment is estimated at $6.6 trillion per year. At current rates this figure is estimated to increase to $28 trillion by 2050.
We are one of 50 businesses to support the development of the natural capital protocol, a standardised framework to measure and value direct and indirect impacts and dependencies on nature.
We recognise that some of our projects have the potential to create a negative impact on local biodiversity. However, there are opportunities for us to leave a positive legacy by enhancing biodiversity as a result of our operations.
Biodiversity net gain
Biodiversity net gain is an approach to development that leaves biodiversity in a better state than before. Where a construction project or development has an impact on biodiversity, it encourages increases in appropriate natural habitat and ecological features over and above that being affected.
Skanska, alongside many of our clients, is working to deliver biodiversity net gain across our operations. To support us in this task we have implemented a biodiversity net gain assessment tool. This informs our approach to the design, construction and maintenance of projects.
We are working to gain a deeper understanding of how our operations impact on biodiversity. We aim to identify what measures we can take to reduce and mitigate their effects. Excellent environmental management ensures that work is planned around any protected species on and near our sites.
Many of our projects are proactively working to create a net gain in biodiversity, with some significant success stories.
An example is the £1.5 billion A14 road improvement project in Cambridgeshire, which we delivered as part of an integrated delivery team. We planted 25 miles of hedgerow, created new woodland the size of Monaco and created 271 hectares of new connected habitat. We installed tunnels beneath the new road, with carefully placed shrubs to direct animals, so they have a safe way to cross the road and providing improved connectivity. We put up hundreds of new bat and barn owl boxes. The project also took an innovative approach to improving great crested newt and water vole habitat, resulting in an overall net gain in biodiversity.
Through our ‘lend a hand’ volunteer programme, working with local charities, our employees have contributed to enhancing biodiversity in the local communities in which we work, through activities such as tree planting and pond creation.
The Construction Industry Research and Information Association’s BIG Biodiversity Challenge encourages construction projects to ‘do one thing’ for biodiversity. Since the challenge started in 2014, more than 20 of our projects have taken part. These include:
- Project Wellesley, Mindenhurst
- Hinkley NNB Genco, Cannington Park and Ride
- Woodlands School, Essex
- Thames Water, Finsbury Park Resevoir